Long long ago, you may have heard a landlord who loved money as he loved his own life and famous for his stingy character. Even the smallest coin is as large as a millstone in his eyes. He tried his best to lookout news way to make more money and was very mean to his peasant tenants. As a consequence, they called him 'Skinflint'.
The whole crop were ruined in one year by the long spell of drought. The peasants had no choice but to eat bark and roots to survive, and now even these were all consumed. In fact, they were used to living from year to year, and never had a reserve of grain to fall back on. So they had to ask for a loan of grain from Skinflint, whose granaries, big and small, were filled to overflowing. As you know, he was such a miser that he wouldn't part with a single speck of either althouth the grain was sprouting and the flour was swarming with maggots. His peasants went away seething with anger and resentment, and resolved to find some way to teach him a lesson because of his bad behavior.
After consideration, they came up with rather a good plan. A few tiny silver ingots and a scraggy little horse were collected by them. Then, they stuffed the silver up the horse's behind and bunged it up with a wad of cotton floss. Now, the story was begin: they choose one of their number, a peasant whose gift of gab had earned him the nickname "Bigmouth" and who was credited with the power of talking the dead out of their graves. He went to Skinflint with the horse. Shinflint flew into a rage and his whiskers bristled when he has seen them.
With glowered at Bigmouth, he pointed at him and angrily and shouted: "You damn fool! You have fouled my courtyard enough. Get out of my sight!"
"Please keep your voice down, Master," Bigmouth replyed with a cuning smile. "If you frighten my horse and make him bolt, you'd have to sell everything you've got to make good the damage."
"There you go, Bigmouth, bragging again!" said Skinflint. "What can this scraggy little horse of yours possibly be worth?"
To which Bigmouth replied, "Oh, nothing, except that when he moves his bowels silver and gold come out."After heard it, his Skinflint's anger evaporated and he hastened to ask, "Where did you get hold of this beast?"
"I dreamt a dream the night before last," Bigmouth said. "I met a white-bearded old man who said to me, 'Bigmouth, the colt who used to carry gold and silver ingots for the God of Wealth has been demoted and sent down to Earth. Go to the northeast and catch him. When he moves his bowels, silver and gold come out. If you catch him, you'll make a fortune.' Then the old man gave me a push and I woke up. I didn't take it seriously, thinking it to be nothing but a dream. I turned over and fell asleep again. However, as soon as I closed my eyes, the old man reappeared and urged me to hurry up. 'The horse will fall into another's hands if you delay!' he said, and gave me another push which woke me up again. I put on my clothes and ran out. In the northeast I saw a ball of fire. When I ran over, sure enough, there was the colt, grazing contentedly. So I led him home. The following day, I set up an incense burner and as soon as I lit the incense, the colt began to produce silver ingots from its behind."
"Did it really?" asked Skinflint eagerly.
Bigmouth said, "There's an old proverb which says, 'The proof of the pudding is in the eating.' If you don't believe me, you can allow me to arrange a demonstration."
He ordered Skinflint to set up a burner and light some incense. At the samer time, he himself held a plate below the horse's behind. The wad of cotton and the tiny silver ingots were secretly pulled out which fell jingling onto the plate. Skinflint asked avidly after seeing the horse perform like this, "How much does he produce a day?"
"Three or four taels a day for us less lucky folk," replied Bigmouth. "But the old man in my dream said that if he meets a really lucky person he produces thirty or forty."
Skinflint thought to himself, "I must be one of those. If I get the horse, he is bound to produce at least twenty taels a day, which means six hundred taels a month and seven thousand two hundred taels a year."
The longer his sums became, the fonder he grew of the horse. He decided that he must buy him, and talked it over with Bigmouth.
Bigmouth pretended to be unwilling at first . Skinflint tried his best to persuade him and promised to pay any price he asked. At last, Bigmouth sighed and said, "Oh well, so be it. My luck is obviously worse than yours. I'll sell, but what I want is not silver or gold, just give me thirty bushels of grain."
Skinflint thought the price was very cheap, so he readily agreed. They made the exchange at once. With the grain, Bigmouth hurried back and shared them among his fellow peasants. They were all very happy to have it. But Skinflint felt even happier to have this magical horse, and just couldn't stop chuckling to himself. Due to afraid of losing the horse, he tried to tie him up in a great many places, but none of them seemed safe enough. He used a red carpet to recieve his horse even set up an incense burner. At last, he decided to tie him up in his own living room. He laid a red carpet on the floor and set up an incense burner. The whole family watched the colt with eager anticipation, expecting him to start producing silver and gold at once.
As a result, they waited till midnight. All of a sudden, the horse opened his hind legs. Skinflint sensed that he was about to "produce." He quickly brought over a lacquered tray and held it right below the horse's behind. Long period he waited but nothing happened. Skinflint was so anxious present that he lifted the horse's tail, bent down and peered upwards to look carefully on further developments. There was a sudden "splash," and before Skinflint could do anything about it, the horse had splattered him all over his face. The "liquid gold" covering his whole body, which ran down the back of his head and down his neck. The stench was so vile that Skinflint started jumping and shouting and then felt nauseous and began to vomit again and again. Then the horse urinated in great amounts, ruining the lovely red carpet. The whole room was full of stunk. Now, Skinflint realized that he had been cheated, and in a fit of rage, he killed the horse.
Skinflint is so angry that he sent some of his hired thugs to track down Bigmouth. But he was hidden by the peasants already. Skinflint's men searched for him high and low but always came back empty handed. He could do nothing except send out spies and wait. All of these leaded his fury and exasperation.
It was winter that the twinkling of an eye. One day, Bigmouth was caught by one of Skinflint's henchmen for he failed to hide properly. When he came face to face with his foe, Skinflint gnashed his teeth with rage and without saying a word, had Bigmouth locked up in his mill. It is very cold in the winter while Skinflint had him stripped of all his padded clothes and left him with nothing but a cotton shirt with hoping to freeze him to death in mind. Outside, snow was falling and a bitter wind was blowing. Bigmouth had no cloth and just sat huddled up in a corner, trembling with cold. As the tempreture decreased, he almost can't bear the cold climate. An idea occurred to him all of a suddern. He stood up at once, heaved a millstone up off the ground and began walking back and forth with it in his arms. He soon warmed up and started sweating. He passed the entire night in this way, walking around with the millstone and occasionally stopping for a rest.
Early next morning Skinflint considered that Bigmouth must surely be dead. But when he unlocked the mill door, to his great surprise, he found Bigmouth squatting there in a halo of steam, his whole body in a muck of sweat instead of died of cold. Bigmouth stood up at once and begged him, "Master, take pity on me! Quick, lend me a fan! Or I shall die of heat!" "How come you are so hot?" asked the dumbfounded Skinflint. "This shirt of mine is a priceless heirloom," Bigmouth explained. "It's called the Fire Dragon Shirt. The colder the weather, the greater the heat it gives off."
"When did you get hold of it?"
"Originally it was the pelt cast off by the Lord Fire Dragon. Then the Queen of the Western Heaven wove it into a shirt. Later on it somehow fell into the possession of my ancestors and became a family heirloom. It has been passed down from generation to generation and it has been passed for many generations until finally it came into my hands."
Seeing how unbearably hot he was, Skinflint believed the whole story. He was willing to get hold of this Fire Dragon Shirt and had completely forgotten the episode of the gold colt. He insisted on bartering his fox-fur gown for the shirt. Bigmouth absolutely refused at first time, butfifty taels of silver added to the price by the eagar Skinflint. He said with a sigh, "Alas, what a worthless son am I, to have thus lost my family's treasured heirloom!"
Finally, he took off his shirt and put on Skinflint's fox-fur gown. Then he gained the fifty taels of silver and strode away. Several days later, it is the time of his father-in-law's birthday. For sake of showing off his new acquisition, he went to convey his birthday greetings just weared the Fire Dragon Shirt. A fierce wind came up and it began to snow in the middle of the journey. Skinflint felt unbearably cold. The place was far from village or inn, and there was no shelter of any sort available here. He glanced over his shoulder and saw a tree by the roadside, half of which had burnt away in a fire. It was hollow in the middle and the space was wide enough for a person to stand up in. Skinflint hurried over and hid inside. Shortly afterwards his whole body became numb with cold, and soon he died.
His body was found several days later by the family. They knew that he had been cheated again by Bigmouth, and sent men to seize him.
"My precious shirt burns whenever it comes into contact with kindling, grass or timber," explained Bigmouth. "The master must have been burned to death in this way. I am not to blame. I never told him to hide inside a tree. If you look, you will see that half of the tree has been burnt away."
After examined the tree, they saw that it was indeed as Bigmouth had described, they had no reason to catch the Bigmouse but to let him go.